Marriage Tattoos – Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

In the past several decades, as tattooing has crawled from the prejudices and judgments of our fathers and grandfathers as a sign of delinquent behavior into a respected and highly technical art form, tattoo trends have come and gone. Surely, no one can forget the horrible tribal tattoos and barbed wire armbands of the mid-1990s. And many a young lady of Generation Y came to regret that lower back tattoo they picked out from a wall of bland flash while drinking with a group of their girlfriends once the moniker of ‘tramp stamp’ became prevalent. Even the world of military tattoos has an unspoken book of rules about what you can and cannot wear on your skin in relation to your actual experience. Yet, almost no mainstream tattoo remains as controversial as the marriage tattoo.

The prejudice, urban legend and downright hatred of relationship tattoos have been fixed into our brains. When I began getting tattooed a decade ago, it was drummed into my skull like a mantra:

“Never get a tattoo of your girlfriend/wife/significant other. You will immediately break up afterward, every single time.”

Friends, I am here to tell you that it is time to put this prejudice to rest. We live in an age where not only are tattoos more widely accepted as a cultural norm, but the tolerance of the size and amount of tattoos also has increased. In the 1980s, a few brave souls fulfilled their urge for the needle by getting one or two carefully placed pieces in an easily coverable spot. Now, having full sleeves, and in recent times even hand and neck tattoos, is something we see even highly educated and well employed people (traditionally the anti-tattoo community) wearing with pride. We have become a society of tattoo collectors.

This shift from small whimsical tattoos to serious collections should break the stigma of marriage tattoos. Every day, young and old married couples alike undergo a painful and permanent tribute to their love, shrugging off the ridiculous old wives’ tales of impending miserable divorce. We have become a culture that celebrates both love and art, and the perfect representation of that is getting tattooed with your spouse. Whether it is as simple as a tattoo of each other’s names, or elaborate multi-session pieces that commemorate their wedding day, we should be supportive of these brave pioneers of stereotype breakers.

We have an almost 50 percent divorce rate in this country, and I’ll bet that only a small percentage of these individuals have marriage tattoos. It is time for us to dismiss the ridiculous notion that because we wanted to celebrate a time in our lives that was filled with love and happiness, that we have doomed ourselves to relationship peril. Sometimes, a celebration of love is just what we need.


code: bridal-2013

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